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Instructor Introduction from Luis

Hi everyone,

My name is Luis Alvarado and I’m happy to say that I’ll be an instructor for your upcoming semester program.

The areas and the themes of this course are very important and very personal to me. I was born in Texas, my mother is from the midwest and my father is from the Texas-Mexico border. My parents divorced when I was young and I grew up with my mother however there was always a part of me that felt tied to the place I was born and my father’s lineage. As I grew, my interest in this part of my identity grew and I began to reconnect with the traditions and culture of that part of my history. After a year at university I decided to move to Mexico to live and study, and for me there was no question about how I was going to get there, traveling by land through the desserts and canyons of the southwest. As a 19 year old I boarded a train and headed south from Missouri with the intention of landing in Guadalajara, Mexico. I traveled throughout the borderlands and eventually ended up in Nuevo Laredo, my father’s hometown directly on the US-Mexico border. By that time Nuevo Laredo was notorious as a hub for drug trafficking and widespread violence. I walked the streets that afternoon and imagined the lives my ancestors had lived in this noble place before the violence. I continued down through the copper canyon and eventually arrived in Guadalajara in time for the school year to begin.

This was just the first of many trips I would eventually make by land through Mexico and the Southwest. Over the years of my adult life I have come to love the land, the people and the traditions of this unique corner of the world. To me there is an intangible quality of space to New Mexico and Texas that I have never experienced anywhere else in the world. Since that first time traveling on my own I have gone on to spend years living in Guatemala and coming to love her people as well. I have watched as those two worlds, the border and Central America have become vilified in mainstream US discourse. I have seen how people I love, people I come from, are portrayed as criminals and treated as less than human along the border. I have seen literal walls erected to guard the privilege of some, built on the backs of others. All of this has been amplified recently with the growing polarization of society in the United States. It’s for this reason, and for so many others, that I applaud your decision to come and learn about this part of the world.

Because these times are how they are, we’ll need to maintain a lot of flexibility around where we go and what we do. However no matter what, we can dedicate ourselves to learning, listening, respecting and reflecting on these issues and many others that will help us grow as people. I am excited to honor my ancestors, the land and these times with you all during our upcoming time together. I look forward to meeting you soon and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me at [email protected]

Muchas gracias,

Luis